Microsoft’s appeal: “App Store” is generic!

Apple has been making every effort to have the name “App Store” trademark under its name, but this effort has run in to direct conflict from Microsoft. Microsoft has argued that the phrase in question is too generic that competitors would have a difficulty using a different word to describe their own “applications” service.

Shortly after Apple launched its App Store in 2008, it applied for a trademark and described it as a retail store offering services featuring computer software provided through the web and other computer and electronic communication networks, as well as other services.

However, Microsoft filed action opposing the application with the agency’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. Microsoft said that the “app store” is a generic term for retail store services featuring apps and unregistrable for additional services such as searching for and downloading apps from such stores. Microsoft argued that the word “app” (short for application) is a general term for mobile software applications, and that the word “store” is a term for a place where goods are sold. Taken together as a whole, the words represent a generic term for a primary service, and as such should not be registered for trademark as that would prevent competitors from using the term to describe their own products. The filing cited efforts to trademark “The Computer Store” and “Log Cabin Homes,” applications the board rejected for their generic natures.

Microsoft’s move sites that the phrase has become common enough that even Steve Jobs used the phrase during an interview last October to criticize the production of similar efforts from rival companies. He said that developers would need to work hard to distribute their apps and in order to receive payment and customers need to really work hard to find the apps for them since aside from Google’s own app marketplace, Amazon, Verizon, and Vodafone have all announced that each will be creating its own “app store” for the Android OS.

This issue notes that several other companies have online enterprises selling apps for mobile devices but have opted to use other terms to avoid the possibility of legal retaliation by Apple, even though those stores are referred to as “app stores” by the media.

Your thoughts

What is your take on the issue? I do believe that the term “app store” is a general term. What about you? Do you think this term should be exclusive to Apple?

Let us all know in the comments!

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About the Author

Stephen NellasStephen is part of the Software Jewel team, the company behind Clutterpad and BiP. He's also a regular author for BiP.View all posts by Stephen Nellas →